You say po-tay-toe, I say po-tah-toe

December 6, 2007

More controversy over recognition of same sex relationships by the government:

THE Rudd Government is on a collision course with the ACT Government over the territory’s plan to allow civil unions between same-sex couples.

Well, I guess we saw this coming.

The Age believes Attorney-General Robert McClelland wants the states and territories to introduce relationship registers – similar to those operating in Tasmania and slated for Victoria – rather than allowing for civil unions. Christian groups oppose civil unions because they believe they are too similar to marriage. Before the election, these groups got a promise from the Labor Party to oppose civil unions.

Because apparently christian groups own marriage. If that’s the case, why can you get married by a celebrant? Why can non-christians get married? Either marriage is a religious ritual (so most of us shouldn’t use it), or it is a secular formalization and recognition of a relationship (in which case the churches should just but out).

“What if it’s both?” I hear you cry! Well, if it’s both then the government is mandating a specific religion’s belief on its citizens, and those of us who think this is a bad idea are going to have to look into immigrating to Iceland or something.

But the ACT Government says relationship registers, which give legal recognition to same-sex, de facto and dependent relationships, do not go far enough.

“We have consistently said that relationship registers are not our preferred model,” ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell told The Age.
“I don’t believe (a register) is an appropriate mechanism. It hasn’t been widely used where it has been implemented. In Tasmania, there hasn’t been a large number of registrations … and I think the reason is that it doesn’t provide the level of recognition of relationship that’s important to same-sex couples.”

That’s kind of what it all comes down to. Because of religious belief imposed in common law, people who happen to be sexually attracted to people of the same sex do not have the same rights as any other citizens.

I’m not sure which is more abhorrent – that this is happening, or that people just don’t seem to care that it’s happening.

Yesterday, the powerful Australian Christian Lobby warned “federal Labor would … not want to be seen to break an article of faith with the Christian constituency so soon after winning office”.
The Lobby’s managing director, Jim Wallace, accused ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope of leading the way “in breaking down the meaning of family in Australia” by allowing adoption by same-sex couples. Now Mr Stanhope was trying to “undermine the special status of marriage in society as being between a man and a woman”, he said.

Just what is a family in Australia anyway? A mother and a father with a child? What if they adopt another child – is that child part of the family? What if they divorce and the mother keeps the child? What if the mother enters a relationship with a man who has children of his own – are they a family? What if she get’s together with a woman with children of her own? A family isn’t a simple concept – you can’t make up a simple rule for what constitutes a family for heterosexuals – why should same sex couples be considered excluded by default?

As far as I am concerned, a family is a group of people who may (or may not) be related by marriage, adoption, blood, location, hair color, love of chocolate, species or whatever – who recognize a deep and abiding responsibility to care for and support each other though the duration of their lives. And to quote Cindy Lauper, that’s good enough for me.


3 Responses to “You say po-tay-toe, I say po-tah-toe”

  1. CarrieP Says:

    Well put, Dave. I have some very good friends that I consider my “family.”

    For a girl over in the US, could you explain out the acronym ACT for me?


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